NATO's strategic narratives: Angelina Jolie and the alliance's celebrity and visual turn
Watch Katharine A M Wright and Annika Bergman Rosamond discuss their new article in BISA journal Review of International Studies (RIS). The article focuses on Angelina Jolie's high-profile visit to NATO in 2018, and how that signals a move to brand the alliance's strategic narrative within the language of celebrity through engagement with popular culture.
The authors provide a critical study of this change in NATO's strategic narrative, through the analysis of visual and textual material related to Jolie's visit to NATO.
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Angelina Jolie's high-profile visit to NATO in 2018 signals a move to brand the alliance's strategic narrative within the language of celebrity through engagement with popular culture. The partnership represents a significant change in the alliance's approach to global security. It also builds on a shift in NATO's self-narrative through the advocacy of gender justice related to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Rather than fading into the background, NATO appears to be pursuing the limelight for the purpose of ‘awareness raising’ as a tool to implement the WPS agenda. Drawing upon feminist scholarship on the WPS agenda, NATO, and research on celebrity humanitarianism and politics, we provide a critical study of this change in NATO's strategic narrative, through the analysis of visual and textual material related to Jolie's visit to NATO. Our focus is on the significance of this partnership and its contribution to legitimising the alliance's self-defined ‘military leadership’ in the area of conflict-related sexual violence. While Jolie's visit to NATO opened the alliance to public scrutiny it also symbolised a form of militarism, surrounded by orchestrated visual representations. As such, it only marginally disrupted the militarist logic present in NATO's wider WPS engagement.
Image by Cancillería Ecuador / Ecuador Foreign Ministry, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence